This study – Distributed Denial of Service Attacks Against Independent Media and Human Rights Sites - published by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society and funded by the Open Society Foundations* highlights the growing threat of cyberattacks against independent media and human rights websites. The research finds that targets can do little to prevent such attacks, and should focus instead on mitigating harm.
The Internet is a crucial tool for independent media and human rights organizations to communicate their message and their mission to the world, and to shed light on issues mainstream media would rather ignore. But the Internet also provides a new set of tools for those who would suppress speech: hacking attacks on an organization’s technical infrastructure such as Distributed Denial of Service, or DDoS attacks.
The research, by Ethan Zuckerman, Hal Roberts, Ryan McGrady, Jillian York & John Palfrey, sought both to understand the ways in which DDoS attacks are used to suppress speech, and to make initial recommendations to independent media and human rights organizations to fend off such attacks. [UPDATE: Jan 2011, see also Becky Hogge's post about this issue on the OSF blog.]
*The report is the result of research sponsored by the Open Society Information Program and jointly funded by the Media Program, Southeast Asia Initiative, Russia Project, and Central Eurasia Project.